MOSCOW, September 20 (RIA Novosti) - Air France has cancelled 60 percent of its flights to Russia and 70 percent of flights from Russia due to the ongoing pilots' strike on Saturday, according to data published on the airlines official website.
Only six of the 13 flights from Paris to Moscow scheduled for Saturday will go on as planned, in addition to six of the 18 scheduled flights planned for the reverse route. All flights to and from St. Petersburg via Air France have been cancelled.
Although the strike was originally scheduled to end on Sunday, new plans have extended the protest to September 26. The sudden extension resulted from a deadlock in negotiations between the airline and unions.
Air France previously ensured 45 percent of its flights scheduled for Saturday would function as usual, while 55 percent would be cancelled.
Though Air France offers its customers the option to change their flight plans or refund their tickets, the airline's website and customer support is struggling with the influx of requests. Customers calling the airline can expect a three hour wait while queues at Air France offices stretch up to two hours.
Air France is providing compensation to especially distressed passengers including hotel accommodation and meals.
Currently there are more than 3,700 pilots working for Air France, which exceeds the needs of the company. Company's management plans to send the substantial part of the pilots to Air France's affiliated company Hop and Transavia, a Dutch based low-cost airline operating as an independent part of the Air France-KLM group. The company's employees have agreed to the transfer, but claim that their social welfare benefits and status should remain unchanged, as well as the level of wages. Pilots also protest against the reduction of staff.